Skip to main content

tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  February 3, 2011 3:00am-4:00am EST

3:00 am
>> charlie: welcome to our program tonight. continued coverage of egypt. we begin with brian williams. >> the protesters pro-mubarak, they've since been called thugs and street gangs who were in effect day highers for the cause loyal to mubarak, then changed the balance of power and at some point late today into the evening, the atmosphere became toxic and remains that way. >> charlie: we continue with mona el-naggar who lives in
3:01 am
cairo. and naguib sawiris. and jake tapper whitehouse correspondent for abc news. >> this journey of the last eight days, the administrating has proceeded very cautiously, some say too cautiously and it's almost as if every time they stake out a new position, events immediately overtake them. in fact one u.s. official said it's been a real crawl, walk, run toward the obama administration trying to catch up with events. >> charlie: we conclude with bill keillor executive editor of "the new york times" talking about wikileaks and events in egypt. >> it's has some immediate impact and to the extent that what's happening in the streets of egypt, many of the egyptians say they were inspired by what happened in tunisia and had a second -- secondary effect.
3:02 am
>> charlie: our conversation with annette benning will be shown next week. wikileaks, next. maybe you want school kids to have more exposure to the arts. maybe you want to provide meals for the needy. or maybe you want to help when the unexpected happens. whatever you want to do, members project from american express can help you take the first step. vote, volunteer, or donate for the causes you believe in at membersproject.com. take charge of making a difference.
3:03 am
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> charlie: in egypt today there was a dramatic turn of events when demonstrations turned violent, some of them riding camels and horses attacked crowds with whips. stones and chunks of concrete and molotov cocktails. the one person was killed and more than 600 were injured. today's vie runs following president mubarak's violence he will step down in september. the protesters have rejected this and continued to demand his immediate resignation. late in the evening they ordered protests to evacuate tahrir
3:04 am
square. we'll begin with brian women of nbc news. glad to have him join us on this dramatic day. as i said hello to you brian you said this is a remarkable day and you've seen a lot of remarkable days whether it's new orleans, iraq or afghanistan. tell me about this one and what resonated with you. >> the day started charlie and thank you for having me, with the noise i could hear outside my hotel room. it's been a constant din here since the start of the uprising. this was different, though. it was almost, i compared it on the today's show this morning to a small mid western college town after the football game where individual frat houses or colleges within a university come out and march as a group. i looked out and these groups were marching under their own banners, clusters of them, some of them with vehicles and loud speakers on tops of cars. we came to our anchor location
3:05 am
where we are now. we were on the today show, morning joe on msnbc and then it became kind of a parade behind us. more mubarak supporters than we've seen in days. we remarked at that but then, and we still, i should point out, still have gunfire going on here tonight but we'll get to that in a moment. then we saw horses. we saw men on horseback and men on camels. not a sight we're used to seeing in this part of the world. it was later we learned that those on horseback and camels really split the line in football terms. they were the ones to go into the breach in the square where the demonstrators held the turf and didn't know at first what was happening. the protesters pro-mubarak, they've since been called thugs and street gangs who were in effect day hires for the cause, loyal to mubarak.
3:06 am
then changed the balance of power, and at some point late today into the evening, the atmosphere became absolutely toxic, the balance of power shifted, it got terribly violent and it remains that way. >> charlie: where is the balance of power at this moment? >> it's very hard to say. i just talked to a woman who is stuck in an apartment on the square, what would normally be lovely prized real estate and she said even these people have to sleep. there's been a lay off in some of the violence, the stick throwing, molotov cocktails. two cars on fire in front of a great museum of antiques.
3:07 am
they were making inroads on the pro-mubarak forces. the point is one of made egyptian friends said they had it and they couldn't hold it. he fears because he was pro insurrection and anti-mubarak, he fears it could be over, that this could be the in-road that mubarak needed until september, buy himself some more time and put this down or at least remind the people here who is in charge. >> charlie: and they think his motivation was to create conflict or simply to gain ground? >> well, this is again from talking to the locals and looking at this today, it seems a tad transparent but if you believe the theory that these were cobbled together. that these are street gangs and some of the journalists who were hit by them today and incidentally that was a big switch.
3:08 am
yesterday all of cairo wanted to be on camera. today they all wanted to take our cameras from us. a big shift. but if you believe the theory, then mubarak can certainly say look, these were not men in union for coming to reclaim the city and the square. these appeared to be citizen gangs who had had enough of the six, seven days of economic stagnation that people's uprising has caused mother egypt. >> where was the army? >> well the army, that's an interesting question. they're sitting in tanks and armored personnel carriers. i remarked to a friend of mine i guess last night u.s. time early in the more than here it was still dark, 4:00 a.m. they had taken the big machine guns off their gun mounts. they were in a peaceful stance. well those guns are back on the
3:09 am
on the mounts. they fired off rounds pretty steadily for a time tonight. again, no reason to believe they weren't all in the air to disburse protesters but it's a shocking thing to hear. they've been squeezing off single rounds in the last hour, not far from us. the army is set up with armor on paved streets. i don't think anyone on either side would want them engaging. they're not here in sufficient numbers to form human shields. they are venerated. they are vowing not to fire on any of the protests stunned a lot of people because that's usually a thing a president would confirm or deny. >> charlie: where is suleiman and what are you hearing from him and what is the sense of
3:10 am
what he wants to achieve here. >> hard to know because as you know and i am assuming and kind of guessing that his name has come up at your famous table, he's made his bones by being a gray eminence, a background operator, someone that western business interests and diplomats and politicians have at least respected and some of them have grown comfortable with. to use the great phrase that's the title of the book about edward bennett williams, the man to see. well he's been the man to see in egypt for a while, and now he's in a very visible role. so it's like asking about mubaras daily whereabouts, it's impossible to know without someone on the inside who is
3:11 am
pulling what levels. >> charlie: i ask that question because i read or saw today that he had said he will not meet with the protesters until, he's asking for dialogue, but he will not meet until they withdraw. >> well, it also turns out that a lot of residents of cairo received kind of a civic sms text page this morning saying this is a loose translation. if you got sisters, cousins, uncles best to tell them to get out. loudly what people really want is dialogue. in the meantime the protesters representing their interests are forging on ahead. >> charlie: is there a consensus at all as to how this is going to, what's going to happen friday? what's going to happen over the weekend? what's going to happen next week? >> well friday's kind of the next day of rage and yet if
3:12 am
tonight is headed where i think it is, then that square could be sealed off and taken off the list of possible protest spots. if you had asked me yesterday what today was going to look like, i would guess something entirely different. this wasn't to be predicted by the best expert on the arab world. if you told me they would ride in on horses, whipping peaceful non-violent civilian protesters that the horses themselves would be tackled, that they be on camel back, that the camels would be attacked along with the riders and they would be attacked coming along this makeshift urban battlefield, i wouldn't believe a word of that but that's the situation as we stand here talking tonight. >> charlie: brian thank you very much for joining us on a late night for you. >> charlie, thank you for having me.
3:13 am
>> charlie: joining me by telephone from cairo is mona el-naggar from the new york times. i'm pleased to have her on this program. we've had an opportunity to talk with her about egyptian issues on previous visits to cairo so it's a special pleasure to have her this evening to help us understand what's happening there. welcome. where are we in the conflict between those people who support mubarak and those people who oppose mubarak and would like for him to leave now? >> well, i mean i would be say it's between those who support mubarak and those who do not support mubarak. i would say there are definitely people out there who are calling for the regime, calling to bring down the regime, calling for mubarak to step down, asking, making certain demands. then there are people who are perhaps not so much pro-mubarak but not for the demonstrate demonstrations at this point. they feel their country has come
3:14 am
to a calm and there needs to be negotiation over the demands. and then there are people who are pro-mubarak that even if there was such a huge sort of pro-mubarak camp, i asked the questions why do they not come out to demonstrate earlier rather than today specifically. we see demonstrators come out today as opposed to two days ago or three days ago when they could have come out and voiced their sort of opinion, their pro-mubarak point of view earlier on in the week. which they did not do. so it seems like the demonstrators who came out headed for tahrir square today were basically there on a mission to get rid of the anti-regime protesters who were camped out in the square. as it stands now the anti-regime protesters have pledged to continue to demonstrate and they are preparing for what they call
3:15 am
the flight of departure. so after tomorrow they're preparing for big demonstration and they're hoping for huge turn out, maybe bigger than the turn outs that we've witnessed before here in the country. and at the same time, the mubarak regime, there's an effort to try and sort of bring calm, bring people, bring business as usual into the country, have people go back to work, have the people go back to school, universities, and just kind of overcome this whole mood of protests in the country. >> charlie: is it growing or declining or is it what. >> well it's been growing and there's been this sort of momentum. when mubarak came out and gave his speech last night, it did two things. it sort of divided the protesters between those who felt that he sort of met their demands in one way or another
3:16 am
and that they were willing to accept some kind of compromise when mubarak could stay in power for a few more months as long as they get the reforms that they've called for. and then there are people who felt that they could not trust what he said. and they worried, in fact, that there would be a huge backlash against them. and they felt they needed to stay there on the square and continue to protest until mubarak steps down. so the ranks of the opposition has been sort of divided. it's been shaken up a little so we're not sure exactly what's going to happen on troy when they try to come out. will they be as united as they were before or will we see smaller numbers coming out. that will just have to wait and find out. as for other people, there's a lot of people who feel the country's been at a stand still for a whole week, this sort of paralysis. people cannot go to work, there are people who have not been able to get their salaries. children have been taken out of
3:17 am
schools. universities have stopped. so there's definitely a huge call for going back to business as usual for the country. so i'm not sure exactly how these things will play out over the coming two or three days. what's interesting actually about the demonstrations, the protests that have been going on for about a week now is that they are very representative of society. you see a bit of everything and a bit of everyone. you see women, you see children, you see families, you see, you know, the range from -- to the secular. it's a cross of society and women are certainly a part of it. they tend to kind of step back when violence breaks out and they're not on the frontline but they are definitely there in the demonstrations making the same demands that the men are making.
3:18 am
>> charlie: who is -- >> she specifically came out, made a video and put it up on youtube and facebook urging people to go out and protest. it's interesting. it was a bit of a defiant act because she actually put her face on the camera and spoke without really being afraid of the possibility of arrest. so she put her face to the name and she relayed her message saying go out protest, don't be afraid. when she did that, she held the sign up to her chest saying i'm going down on the 25th and i will demonstrate. when she did that, a lot of people started to sort of copy it and they would hold the same sign up and take a picture and say they're going down. and it was just kind of another step towards breaking the barrier of fear in confronting the regime and going out and protesting. >> charlie: is the only real
3:19 am
question whether mubarak will step down now or very soon or whether he will be able to hold on until the next election? >> well so far i mean what we see is this is sort of going on the way that the tunisia, people are saying there's one more speech that's missing and that's basically the one where he just leaves. so there's that parallel. but then again it's a different country, different variables and things might turn out differently. one sure thing and one thing that people, analysts experts here have agreed upon is that egypt has changed and it's changed in fundamental ways which may be it would be impossible to kind of turn back that. people have broken through that barrier of fear. they've gone out, denied, they
3:20 am
protested. they've held anti-mubarak signs, spoken to the cameras. so this has changed. people feel that the son of the president potentially coming to power now would be sort of difficult to go through. so this is also a done deal. the president has already vowed not to run for elections in september or rerun or restand for elections in the coming presidential elections in september. so things have changed now. to what extent will, it's really essentially a question of process or system. will the system be amended. will there be a real sort of process of change and reform that will allow for greater representation, fairer elections, participation of the opposition. this is the real question. mubarak i think it's at this point it's a done deal in the sense that he will go sooner or later. the question is what happens next. will egypt see a real democratic
3:21 am
process coming to many some kind of shape and form or will it be, you know, same thing different faces. so i think this is the question to be asked and i think this is something that will have to wait and see for ourselves. >> charlie: i want to thank you so much for staying up late and having this conversation with us here. it was helpful in understanding. joining me on the telephone from cairo is naguib sawiris. he's been on this program before when he was in america and we've visited with him in cairo. it's a special pleasure to have him here this evening to talk about what's happening in his country. what is egypt becoming? >> it's not becoming anything. i mean we were all -- the extremists and the -- take the power if there was a democratic
3:22 am
movement. now this movement has been initiated by the people -- dominant part of it -- hijacking their own revolution. so i feel like all we are worried about now is that these young people have not put an affirmative for an interim period so we can walk from the regime of mr. mubarak to the next -- of egypt, you know. so for mubarak to resign and so on. people today have actually demonstrated against that wish because the president -- and many people, and i'm one of them too, i shared the fact that we want our president to maintain
3:23 am
his pride and the egyptian pride -- for rehabilitation of his country -- respect around the world and we believe he should not be leaving disrespect. he has shown a lot of courage not abandon thing the country. he's not -- who left the country in five minutes and fleed, you know. so i believe, we he and some other people believe that it should be a period to allow a normal and peaceful succession to the next. >> charlie: in fact you want him to stay in power until the next election. >> no, we're not saying that. this is not what the young people are saying. what they are saying is he should empower, he has appointed a vice president. he had empower him and giver him the task to implement the necessary reforms that are being requested by these young people. his vice president and prime
3:24 am
minister are both reputable figures, very well respected. if they promised the young people the reform that they want, the young people were trusted and we believe that the president has started this first step. all we need now is for this gentleman to go out and say yes we agree on these reforms and we will do them. >> charlie: do you think that -- and the prime minister are prepared to recommend and encourage the acceptance of most of these reforms? >> look, as you get one million people to the streets, more people on the streets of cairo than the people that went to forced elections. what sparked all the anger these last elections and were unacceptable by any more. so if they were not going to
3:25 am
listen to a million people and these young people who went to suffer the cold and the beating and the smoke and all that. so they would be the right people. >> charlie: you have been quoted as saying the country is out of gas, out of food, out of business, out of communication, out of work. we cannot sustain this situation too long. >> exactly, yes. and this is putting more pressure on the demonstrators for the other parties saying look go home, we want to go back to our lives. but there's all the pride for freedom. now i personally believe that we should try to achieve two goals. one to maintain the dignity of our president which is the dignity of our country because he has done a lot of good and not all of the bad things they're saying. and we should try to accommodate the wishes of these young people
3:26 am
because we need to work with -- >> charlie: naguib, you well know that in some cases, the objectives of the people for the reform and for the corruption and their own protest against the corruption and the lack of freedom that they are protesting that brought them to the street in part they blame the person whose been in office for 30 years whose dignity you are asking for. so there is conflict there, is there not? >> well, i think the problem with young people, they have not presented a solution. do you understand what i mean? you cannot, i mean this is a country that has built into a certain system. if you want to dismantle that system, you need to work slowly so you don't get into chaos. and the president has shown from his point of view a willingness
3:27 am
of change because -- and yesterday he said he will not run for another period. so i think he has made this most with himself. i think he's a brave man by not having abandoned the country and he has to face that situation, you know. personally i feel emotionally about his position. so i think the young people, i believe we should -- and now i need to explain something to you. after tunisia, it's been put to the test today that any ruling, any government that will not listen to its use and its people will will be, i predict that this movement that started in tunisia and continued in egypt will go into all of the autocratic countries, i even
3:28 am
predict from here on the most fundamentalist and extremist country will use these effects here and will rise again and will topple these regimes. people will not accept any more, any dictatorships or tyrannies of the sort. it's done with the internet, the free communication has brought that to its top. >> charlie: i just heard you say you think the leadership in iran, the leadership in saudi arabia, the leadership in jordan, the leadership in yemen will fall. they cannot withstand what you are witnessing in egypt and was ignited in tunisia. >> look. they might not, if they decide to start with reforms on their in. for example, the king of jordan today changed the -- okay.
3:29 am
either you do it from today or changed from the inside. what george bush tried to do was to force our countries to adhere to change coming from the outside. so it back fired because people were saying no, we don't want any interference. now the change has come from the inside so there's no excuse. >> charlie: clearly people of faith were on the streets from all faiths. does this mean that the revolution that has come to the arab world is not driven by any particular religious faith or religious urge. >> exactly. that's a big surprise. i am one of the people who must admit that they were worried that any request of democracy will yield power to the modern -- i was wrong and so were many others too.
3:30 am
the young people of egypt today, they are modern liberal people who want two things. they want their liberty and their freedom of speech but they also want a decent job and a good life. egypt has done a lot of progress economically in the last seven or eight years, has been growing 5 to 7%. do to the jobs, the unemployment has been very high and -- the young people. any new regime will have the same challenges the old regime had to provide these jobs, rising food prices and now with economies demand. it's going to be tough going forward, it's not going to be easy. the request for young people for democracy and freedom of speech, there's always a price to pay for that. >> charlie: naguib sawiris thank you for joining us. it's very good to hear from you
3:31 am
and to be able to talk to you on this day and look forward to seeing you in cairo. >> thank you very much. >> charlie: we'll be right back. stay with us. joining me now from washington is jake tapper. he's senior whitehouse correspondent for abc news. we are very much interested in understanding how the whitehouse has reacted to the events in first tunisia and then in egypt. jake, thank you for doing this. >> it's always a pleasure, charlie. >> charlie: so trace for me the whitehouse response and how they have viewed this and the evolution in their approach, attitude, judgment. >> well it has been a real journey, a real trip from first of all you might recall this all began on the tuesday that was the state of the union night. and president obama did not even mention egypt in that speech even though he did mention sudan and of course tunisia.
3:32 am
he did allude to universal rights and democracy as perhaps a nod to egypt but it was not a direct reference. the first comment from the administration were one where they talk about mubarak as an ally. joe biden said mubarak should not go. that he was an ally. he refused to call him a dictator. the administration's position has been, was at that point to talk about that the fact that mubarak needed to start initiating reforms. and throughout this entire process, this journey of the last eight days, the administration has proceeded very cautiously, some say too cautiously, and it's almost as if every time they stake out a new position, events immediately overtake them. in fact one u.s. official said it's been a real crawl, walk, run for the obama administration trying to catch up with events. after president obama spoke with president mubarak on friday
3:33 am
night, mubarak, according to sources in that call, was very defiant saying that this was something that the egyptian government was going to be able to contain. he blames it all on the islamist groups, the muslim brother hood. president obama came out afterwards and gave a speech. again he was commending the protesters for standing up for their universal rights that president obama said he supports, the right of assembly, democracy, right to pick your own leaders, etcetera. but he also cautioned the protesters against resorting to violence, cautioning the egyptian government against violence. and it's still again, he was still supporting mubarak very much. then over the weekend everything changed and the president and others and the administration secretary of state hillary clinton -- that was after
3:34 am
mubarak basically reshuffled his cabinet thinking that would be enough realized he needed more how far a fendly nudged and that's when they dispatched the former u.s. omnibus dur to egypt frank wisner to go there and basically say we don't think, president obama doesn't think you should run for re-election, quote/unquote re-election. and that your son, gamal should not be on the ballot this septr either. again mubarak didn't seem to be getting the message although he did come out and say he wouldn't run for re-election. he still blames things on the muslim brother hood. now you see a much much more aggressive posture from the obama administration. president obama saying last night that mubarak or that there needs to be an orderly transition and it needs to begin now. that's what he said tuesday night, it needs to begin now. when robert gibbs the press secretary was asked, what does
3:35 am
now mean? he said now means yesterday. so there's an urgency and there's a real concern officials tell me, the president is concerned that mubarak is going to delay this transition of power and that could cause a lot of trouble for the united states. >> charlie: and how do they see what might come after this and the u.s. relationship and the change in the middle east? >> not good. they don't see it as necessarily -- i don't think that there's anybody in the administration who thinks that the next government of egypt is going to be as close or cooperative with the u.s. even if it's headed by elbaradei, you won't have the kind of cooperation that egypt has provided to the united states. and the issue's specifically that they're worried about our counter storm of course and they're talking about the peace accords with israel, talking about access to the suez canal.
3:36 am
how strong will the next egyptian government be when it comes to iran's nuclear program. there is a real concern about what comes next and no confidence about what that will be. >> charlie: thank you very much, jake, it's great to have you on the program tonight, as we look at one of the most interesting and important stories in a long time. >> thank you, charlie. >> charlie: bill keller is here, he's the executive editor of "the new york times." he has an article in the paper's magazine, it is called the boy who kicked the hornet's nest dealing with julian assange. there were reports about the wars in iraq and afghanistan as well as diplomatic cables from the u.s. state dent. before publishing the material wikileaks made it available to a number of news organizations including "the new york times" and the guardian. the website was launched under 2006 to provide secret
3:37 am
information about governments and corporations. i'm pleased to welcome bell -- bill keller. who is this guy. >> i know the parameters, i know the sketch. i talked to him on the phone a few times, i never met him face to face. he is australian by birth. he's a former computer hacker, doesn't like to be described as a former computer hacker but is. and he founded this group which i kind of describe as a group of anti-secrecy vigilantes. they profess a kind of ideology of transparency as an absolute value and have a kind of left
3:38 am
anarchist, you know, view of the large institutions, including governments and particularly american government. >> charlie: why particularly american government? is it power? >> you often find that over seas that america is, you know, europeans love our culture, they resent the way we tend to throw our weight around in the world. that's understandably, there's always the twinge of satisfaction when america is embarrassed. he certainly was hoping to embarras america and maybe shake it up a bit. >> charlie: does he want to bring america down so to speak. >> i don't know. i mean that's the question for him. but i certainly think that he is, he would like to see it humbled. >> charlie: he was on 60
3:39 am
minutes as you know, steve kroft did a terrific job. here's an excerpt just to see in action the person we're talking about and subject of this new york times magazine story. >> those are the u.s. revolution, they are those of the people -- and we have a number of americans in our organization. if you're a whistleblower and have material that's important we will accept it, defend you and we will publish it. we can't turn away material we think comes from the united states. we don't say that the state department should have no secrets. that's not what we say. we say if there are people in the state department, we say that there is some abuse going on. there's not a proper mechanism for internal accountability and external accountability. they must have the conduit to get that out to the public. and we are the conduit. >> charlie: so how did this come to "the new york times" and
3:40 am
the guardian. >> it came to the guardian first. the guardian suggested that the times be included. this was in the summer of last year. and i think julian assange readily accepted the idea that it would be great to have an american presence. i think the guardian also felt it would be great to have somebody to share the labor of process and somebody be company in the fox hole that came under either legal or rhetorical attack. so alan called me up and we had this mysterious conversation where he asked whether the times had any way of creating a secure line. i told him we really, you know, we're not the national security agency. and so he kind of cautious way outlined the state of affairs
3:41 am
which was that wikileaks had come to him with half a million military dispatches that were dispatches from the field in iraq and afghanistan. there was a sussion that there might be more to come specifically. and he asked if i was interested. and of course i was interested. and we almost immediately sent derrick schmidt, a long time military correspondent over to take a look at the information and give us his views on whether it was genuine and whether it was newsworthy. he quickly called back and said he had no doubt in his mind that these were the genuine article and yes they were fascinating. and that was also our first, the
3:42 am
times first encounter where he appeared on the scene. >> charlie: the whole story here about how you came to some differences. >> we did, over the ensuing months. after we published the first batch of articles based on the cables or the military dispatches from afghanistan, he called to say that he was upset that we had declined to link directly to the wikileaks website. we had done that because we were concerned, rightly as it turned out, that the documents would contain the names of ordinary afghans who had talked to the american military and that would make them targets of reprizals. but he took that as an act of disrespect so he was upset about that. we had a couple of other conversations in the ensuing months. one after we did a profile of bradley manning, the army private who was accused of being his source for all of this material. >> charlie: who is in prison. >> who is now in prison. we wrote a number of pieces
3:43 am
about bradley manning but the one that offended him was an attempt at a sort of profile of his up bringing. he had a troubled childhood and a gay man in the american military which is not an easy thing to be. >> charlie: what offended him about that. >> what he said to me was we had the first he used, we had psychologicallized bradley -- his political awakening was the phrase julian used. i tried to explain to him that we thought that his psychology was actually, what might have motivated a person who was now in jail facing potentially many many years in prison what was of interest to him, far from diminishing him, somewhat humanized him. but he wasn't buying that. >> charlie: i'm told that he
3:44 am
hated the piece that john burns had reported, your london bureau chief wrote about him. >> i think hated might be an under statement. >> charlie: what was it about the piece that set him off. >> well the piece which ran, you know, during one of our waves of wikileaks stories and the dissent which is real and there have been some splitters from wikileaks including one fairly senior former member of wikileaks launched his own independent site. people complained first of all that they thought his management style was too authoritarian and they were concerned that he was making himself kind of sole
3:45 am
proprietor of the wikileaks payload. and a number of people within wikileaks were upset with that first because it included the names of people whose lives could be put at risk. >> charlie: let me con to that. because you obviously were concerned about that and that's part of what you did. and to your knowledge, have people been killed because whether it's through wikileaks or your newspaper or the guardian, names have been disclosed which has led to their -- >> not to my knowledge. we have gone back periodically to check with government sources whether they're aware, not just whether people have been killed but any significant impact has a disrupted relations of any countries. has it put a damper on our ability to conduct diplomacy. and it does not seem -- >> charlie: has dried up sources. >> has dried up sources in
3:46 am
foreign countries. that i think the best answer that i've heard with that actually came from robert gates the secretary of defense who said he thought the concern that the publication of these cables was going to, you know, end american diplomacy or disable more than diplomacy, was over wrought were his words. i'm pair fraigz. the reason people in foreign countries talk to the united states not because they love us or because they are confidence in our ability to protect their secrets is because they need us. >> charlie: because of the about. >> exactly. >> charlie: what's interesting about this is that he is reported to have said about that, if in fact some of the people whose names were disclosed got in trouble, they deserved it because they were infers. and whatever happened to them, too bad. >> the guardian reported that. >> charlie: what does that say about him?
3:47 am
>> well probably nothing very good. i think, you know again, i'm basing this on circumstantial evidence but i do think at least his public attitude on all of this has evolved from the early days. when they published that first batch of duments, the blow back they got was not just from the u.s. government or journalists like me or the people at the guardian. they had groups that they would have considered sort of on their side, like amnesty international and other human rights organizations who also criticized them for doing that. i think they realized, i don't know whether they came to some sort of, you know, memory crossroads or whether they just realized that this was bad publicity but they began thereafter to try harder to do, what is referred to as harm minimalization. >> charlie: you define him as a publisher, a journalist, a what? >> i always say that somebody in
3:48 am
a job like you mine should be a little humble about saying who gets to be called a journalist. he's not a journal journalist i understand that line of work. he's an advocate. he is literally a publisher in the sense that he has published documents on to a website. but i think of a journalist as somebody who processes the information and derives interesting things from it and then publishes articles based on the raw material that he publishes for the most part are raw materials. >> charlie: what are the names and other things you elected not to publish in "the new york times" because of whatever reason. >> yes. not everything that the government asked us to withhold but a number of things. i can't talk too specifically about them obviously because we redacted them for a reason.
3:49 am
there was for example, information pertaining to an unsecured cash of nuclear material that would have been of interest to a terrorist group. we withheld that information. >> charlie: and he had no qualms about publishing that. >> as far as that was in the embassy cables. as fares i know, that document has not been published and redacted. there was another case that devised a country that had taken many year to develop and they were convinced if we exposed it, they would lose an important intelligence line and they did that. >> charlie: an interesting point. i think the public doesn't really understand because politicians sometimes, more than just sometimes, will say that they'll speak to the arrogance
3:50 am
of newspapers and investigative reporters because they publish that they believe not in the natural security of said country. without any real knowledge that you are presenting with that issue more sometimes than we all know, we make decisions without saying you're not publishing them because somebody came. what is the determination for you? what is the criteria for saying we will or we will not publish this but we will take into consideration your argument? >> well sometimes it's easy. it's a no brainer. i mean our reporters -- >> charlie: embarrassment and not national security. >> sometimes it's easy on both sides. if this e-mail is going to cause us a diplomatic, that's not justification. the material is actually interesting and informative. on the other extreme our reporters travel with the american military all the time. they have access to operational intelligence. we do not obvious me put that up on the website. and then there are, and the
3:51 am
decision to withhold the names of human rights activists and academics and other people who talk to the american military or diplomats is an easy call too. you know, the in between where it gets tricky and our practice has always been to work through those with as much much of a serious open-minded dialogue with the government as possible. something we don't always agree with their conclusion that a particular piece of information will cause somebody or cause the national interest on but we certainly take that concern seriously. >> charlie: eric holder has said that they're investigating julian assange. should he be prosecuted? >> i'll say this much. i think it would be a real cause for concern if prosecuting him meant a broadening the interpretation of the espionage act or creating some sort of new
3:52 am
law that potentially criminalized the publication of secret information. i think whatever, whether you like julian assange or not, whether you admire his agenda or not, i think that's american journalists and people who believe in the first amendment should come to his defense. what we've reported the justice department seems to be looking for is some evidence that assange or wikileaks aided and abetted the army private who is accused of wikileaks information and basically induced him in their view to violate his oath of office. and i'm not, that's for lawyers to argue whether that's a legitimate avenue or not. if we take the espionage act and awe -- apply that to publicatin
3:53 am
like julian did. >> charlie: under no circumstances he just dumped the information. they did not, his argument on 60 minutes i think was that no, of course we did not encourage him to do this, we did not. he simply got in touch with us. is that not your understanding of the facts? >> i have no idea what the transaction between bradley manning and wikileaks was. >> charlie: this is a good thing or bad thing that we have wikileaks? >> well, i'm tempted to say it is what it is. >> charlie: that's an expression that's overused. >> it has had some good effects and it may have some bad effects. i still you know live in some dread of learning that you know that ordinary afghans have been killed as a result of these documents that reside, still reside on the wikileaks website
3:54 am
and that would be demonstrably bad thing. on the other hand these documents have provided us with a deeper richer understanding of what our country is doing on our behalf and in our name and with our tax dollars and not just in afghanistan and iraq but worldwide. >> charlie: some people say it's caused more embarrassment to our friends than it's caused to us. >> well maybe although there are some tangibles and to the extent that what's happening in the streets of egypt, as to what happened in tunisia it's had a secondary effect. >> charlie: it's an extra story. the boy who kicked the hornet's nest, julian assange and his
3:55 am
secrets, bill keller, the he had executive editor of the energy times. >> thank you. >> charlie: thanks for joining us, see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
3:56 am
3:57 am
3:58 am
>> whoo!
3:59 am